maybe not, but a good view of (& from) the old Golf Club!
The Friends of the Biddenham Village Pond have submitted to Bedford Borough Council today:
- an addendum to their response to the Local Plan 2035 and their request that policy 19 which relates to land at Gold Lane and which would take away its protected status as open space, is removed from the Local Plan; and also
- an addendum to their objection to planning application 18/00140/MAO to build 250 houses on the same land west of Gold Lane.
If you haven’t already objected to policy 19, please do so now using this quick and easy to use link: http://www.have-a-say.co.uk/bpc-policy19.
And if you haven’t already objected to the planning application to build 250 houses west of Gold Lane (18/00140/MAO), please do so now using this link: http://www.have-a-say.co.uk/1800140MAO.
Please continue to share these links widely.
The Biddenham Society
BEDFORD BOROUGH LOCAL PLAN 2035: CONSULTATION
The Biddenham Society has submitted the following objections to Policies 19 and 23 (which relate to tracts of land west of Gold Lane and on the north side of Bromham Road close to the bridge) of the draft 2035 Local Plan, and has requested the policies are withdrawn.
This area of land is currently protected by Policy AD43 (Urban Open Spaces and Gaps) of the Borough’s Allocations and Designations Plan. Policy AD43 identifies urban open spaces as those ‘which have particular importance in maintaining the function, character and identity of the urban area’. It specifically highlights the need to preserve ‘visual breaks to safeguard local distinctiveness including views (particular areas of importance around Elstow and Biddenham have been identified as gaps)’.
It further states that ‘Development will not be permitted on land designated as urban open space and gaps unless it can be demonstrated that the reasons for designation are not compromised or that other material considerations outweigh the need to retain the urban open space and gaps undeveloped’.
This policy (AD43) supports the most recent inspector’s report on this area which relates to an application from Wimpey Homes Holdings to ‘Allocate 18.61ha of land at Gold Lane, Biddenham for some 350 new dwellings on 10ha of net developable land with generous landscaping’ (May 2001 Inspector’s Report on the Bedford Borough Local Plan, page 116 section 4.2.27). He concludes that ‘Development of the scale proposed would seriously diminish the visual attraction of the village edge’, and that ‘By extending north-westwards over what is now a relatively wide rural landscape, it would much diminish the separation between this fringe area of Bedford and the nearby village of Bromham’.
The Biddenham Society suggests that the rationale for creating Policy 19 to supersede Policy AD43 of the Allocations and Designation Plan for this area is unsound for the following reasons:
- The Inspector’s conclusions are as valid now as they were in 2001. In the intervening period the only change on this site has been the replacement of a single derelict barn at the end of Duck End Lane with a new dwelling, otherwise the entire area is in exactly the same condition as before, and remains undisturbed agricultural land.
- Whilst the current proposal in Policy 19 is to develop only 160 dwellings compared to the 350 on which the inspector ruled, his conclusions are equally valid when applied to this lesser number. Firstly, a smaller development will still impact significantly on ‘the visual attraction of the village edge’ as he states, and secondly, confining 160 dwellings to the north-east of the site does not negate the inspector’s concern of closing the gap with Bromham by extending the village north-westwards.
- The development of 160 dwellings in Proposal 19 is certainly in conflict with the existing Policy AD43, and it is difficult to conceive how one could dispute that this development would have a serious negative effect on ‘maintaining the function, character and identity’ of Biddenham. Further, the local authority cannot argue that ‘other material considerations outweigh the need to retain the urban open space and gaps undeveloped’ as Bedford Borough has many more sustainable and brown-field sites that could be developed for the 160 properties proposed here.
- Proposal 9 is also flawed on practical grounds. There is no safe vehicular access to and from the section of the site identified, with any chosen exit onto Gold Lane raising the prospect of a significant increase in traffic through the centre of the village. Local schools are not equipped to handle the increased numbers of school-age children which will result from new housing of this magnitude, the education service already being under pressure to cater for the extra demand resulting from the large building programme north of Bromham Road.
The Biddenham Society therefore urges Bedford Borough to delete Policy 9 from the 2035 draft Local Plan.
This area of land is currently protected by Policy AD42 (Local Gaps) of the Allocations and Designations Plan, and by Policies CP12 and CP13 of the Core strategy and Rural Issues Plan. The proposed Policy 23 to the new Local Plan seeks to set aside important geographical and environmental factors which the borough previously considered to be sufficiently significant as to be worthy of inclusion as ‘red lines’ in the planning framework. These include
- Preserving the physical presence, visual appearance, character, and integrity of the gap between the site and the Bromham boundary; and
- Defining the site as open countryside within the context of Settlement Policy Areas, with future development only being permitted if consistent with national policy, in particular PPS7: Planning and the Countryside.
There have been no changes to this area of land since the above two plans were approved, the most recent application for development (16/00737/MAO) being withdrawn following widespread opposition, including from the planning authority. It is therefore difficult to understand why there should be a reversal of policy as the earlier objections still apply, especially when the relatively small number of dwellings that can be accommodated could be built on more suitable sites available elsewhere in the borough.
In addition to the above it is clear there are several other sound reasons why this particular site is unsuitable for housing development. These include
- Its part presence in flood zones 2 and 3a which will place an unnecessary burden and worry on future occupants of dwellings constructed here;
- The presence of a narrow and dangerous access onto Bromham Road;
- Causing increased traffic flow across the ancient Bromham Bridge in one direction, and onto the Bromham bypass via a hazardous junction in the other direction; and
- The destruction of the beautiful vistas to and from the bridge and the mill.
The Biddenham Society therefore urges Bedford Borough to
delete Policy 23 from the 2035 draft Local Plan.
Dr Tony Wood Chairman
the following objection has been issued:
Ms Rachel Duncan
Bedford Borough Council
5 January 2018
Dear Ms Duncan
Application 17/03101/FUL Biddenham House, 2 Gold Lane, Biddenham MK40 4AJ
The society wishes to object to the above application for the following reasons:
- Gold Lane is narrow at the point of access to the site and a further 16 vehicles (@ 2/dwelling) would exacerbate the hazards associated with this section of road.
- The house and property lie within the Biddenham Conservation Area and at the heart of this historic village. The construction of new dwellings on the site would be totally out of keeping with this part of Biddenham and the character of the surrounding buildings.
- The southern boundary of the property is directly adjacent to the village green and 50m from it. The 2016 Conservation Area Appraisal notes the value of the focal point of the village green, the key views to and from it, the prolific greenery and open spaces, deep grass verges and the extensive private open gardens, all contributing to the special interest of Biddenham. This attractive setting is complemented by the views of Biddenham House across the site.
- There are eight historic properties or features visible within 100m of the site boundaries:
i). 63 Main Road, The Forge (C17th former blacksmith’s cottage)
ii). 48-50 Main Road, Horseshoe Cottage (C17th Listed Grade 2)
iii). 42 Main Road, Lavender Lodge (C18th former farmhouse and the oldest house in the village)
iv). 67 Main Road, The Old Vicarage (C18th Listed Grade 2 with the prominent Cedar of Lebanon tree planted in 1875 by a former vicar)
v). 67a Main Road, Groom’s Cottage (C17th former carriage house, stables and tack room)
vi). 1-3 Gold Lane, Dawn Cottage (C17th Listed Grade 2, former dairy, cobbler and costumier)
vii). 8-10 Duck End (C16th limestone rubble cottage built over the remains of a Roman Road)
viii). The entrance to The Coffin Path from Gold Lane (C16th field track for coffins to be carried to St James Church)
The proposed new buildings on this plot would destroy the historic 360 degree perspective enjoyed from the village green.
- The main part of Biddenham House was built circa 1766 and is the only surviving example of an C18th double pile, polite, small country house in the village. It is alleged the property was used as a hunting lodge by a Duke of Marlborough. The 2016 Conservation Area Appraisal describes the house as having positive merit, with the setting of the house on the north side of the village green aiding the distinctiveness of this area. Its demolition would represent an unacceptable loss of a part of Biddenham’s heritage.
The application is in conflict with the 2002 Local Plan saved policies BE11, BE13, BE15, NE18, and H24 i), ii), iv), and Policy CP21 iv) of the 2008 Core Strategies and Rural Issues Plan, and we urge its rejection.
Dr Tony Wood Chairman
The Biddenham Society Chairman Dr Tony Wood
34 Church End, Biddenham, Bedford MK40 4AR
telephone 01234 349395 e-mail: email@example.com
DEVELOPER PLANS 300 HOUSES TO GRAB MOST OF THE FARMLAND WEST OF GOLD LANE
On 31st October 2017 a meeting was held between interested parties and the proposed developers of a modest area of farmland west of Gold Lane bounded by Gold Lane to the east, Bromham Road to the north and Duck End Lane to the south, on which the local authority had suggested 160 dwellings would be appropriate. Those attending included local councillors, the Parish Council and Friends of Biddenham Pond as well as the Biddenham Society. The developers Curtin and Co. were accompanied by a representative from Lioncourt Strategic Land.
The Biddenham representatives were astonished instead to be confronted with a plan for 300 houses covering an area nearly four times that provisionally suggested by the local authority as appropriate. Houses would completely surround Duck End Lane as far south as the village pond, and extend west to the footpath between the church and the Bromham bypass. Whilst the developers insisted the plans presented were only ‘Work in progress’ it was very clear that any adverse views expressed would make no difference to the overall size of the scheme proposed.
The developer’s tactics were seen by all present as a flagrant attempt to grab most of our remaining open space for the pecuniary gain of themselves and the landowners, and without any regard for the effects on the village and its residents. Our unanimous opposition was made clear, and in a subsequent private discussion the next course of action to be taken to prevent the proposed development was decided.
More than 70 residents, including our two borough councillors, attended the 53rd Annual Lunch and AGM of the Biddenham Society in the Village Hall on Sunday 5th November. Following the chairman’s welcome, the society’s secretary Mark Phillips presented and summarised the minutes of the 2016 AGM. In ‘Matters Arising’, the chairman reported on the current sale of 11 Church End, and the request of the planning authority to help monitor that the conditions attached to the use of the annexe are followed in the future by the new owners.
The Treasurer Garry Fitzhugh reported a satisfactory set of accounts with the customary modest surplus. A questioner was referred to a note on the balance sheet indicating that the majority of the residual funds held were contributed by local organisations specifically for the future maintenance of the Biddenham Heritage Trail. The accounts were approved by the meeting.
In his report the chairman Tony Wood reported there had been 32 village planning applications during the previous 12 months, most of which were uncontentious. He briefly reviewed the four to which the society had objected.
The chairman then moved to the development of the borough’s Local Plan 2021-2035. He reminded the meeting that 10 village sites had been submitted last year for reclassification for building purposes, all of which had been opposed by the society. Most of these had recently been eliminated by the local authority, the main exception being an area bounded by Gold Lane to the east, Bromham Road to the north, and Duck End Lane to the south on which it was suggested 160 dwellings might be constructed. Whilst the society’s position remained opposed to any further development in Biddenham, the pressure on the local authority to meet its housing targets within the urban area was recognised, and the proposal appeared to be the least worst option.
A meeting was held earlier in the week between local interested parties and the proposed developer to discuss this parcel of land, but to the astonishment of the residents and local councillors the developer instead presented a plan for 300 houses covering an area nearly four times that suggested by the local authority as being appropriate. This was seen by those present as a blatant attempt to drive through a mass housing scheme for the pecuniary gain of the developer and the landowners which was contrary to the interests of the village, and was vigorously opposed.
The chairman drew attention to copies of the plan posted in the hall (reproduced on the Biddenham Blog), and invited Peter Chase to speak on behalf of the Parish Council. He confirmed the council’s complete opposition to the proposals, and outlined very clearly why these were at variance to decisions previously taken by the planners to preserve the physical separation of Biddenham and Bromham. There were also many other reasons why such a large development was undesirable including access, traffic considerations, school provision, and the ecological effects on the village pond. With the support of the group that had met the developer he had since written a lengthy letter to the Mayor and borough Chief Executive which listed in detail the numerous local objections to the proposal.
As part of the subsequent debate and questions, Cllr Roger Rigby clarified the likely rationale of the borough in putting forward its original proposal for 160 properties on this site, and confirmed the wisdom of submitting a strong letter from the Parish Council objecting to the developer’s enhanced plans. It was stated that the developer had announced the intention to hold a public consultation in the Church Barn on 21st November.
The final main agenda item was a short presentation from Chris Hayden-Jones on our local footpaths and Cowslip Meadow to which many improvements had already been made with more planned. The chairman thanked Chris for his hard work and leadership on this excellent community project.
In considering membership of the committee for 2017-2018, Bob Hutchinson had indicated he would be stepping down after ten years (nine as treasurer) on the committee, and the meeting warmly showed its appreciation. The remainder of the existing committee (Will Jenkin, Mark Phillips, Garry Fitzhugh, Monica Knight, Susie Mason-Patel, Jeremy Reynolds, Chris Hayden-Jones and Tony Wood), were re-elected unanimously.
The chairman closed the meeting with thanks to all the helpers preparing and serving the lunch, especially to the chief organisers Will Jenkin and Jeremy Reynolds. The next AGM will be on Sunday 4th November 2018.
Founded in 1965 by a group of concerned residents, The Biddenham Society remains committed to the continued preservation of the beauty, history, character and heritage of the village.
Bedford Borough Council is preparing a local plan that will set out how much growth there should be in the borough in coming years (housing, jobs and associated infrastructure) and where it should take place. Current planning policy documents look up to 2021 and the new local plan will extend that period up to 2035. It will also include policies that will be used to make decisions on planning applications.
The Council has asked for comments on the consultation paper it has issued about the new plan, together with a number of supporting evidence documents. The consultation period ends on 9 June 2017.
In the Borough Council’s consultation paper an area of land off Gold Lane, Biddenham, and within sites numbered 29 and 691 in the documentation is shown as a potential development area at this stage: that area of land is not immediately adjacent to the village pond. But in a supporting document, the current draft Strategic Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA), the whole of the land in sites 29 and 691 is shown as being suitable, available and achievable for development.
Our village pond is not served by streams or springs and relies on precipitation and run off from adjacent fields for its water, and importantly the entire area surrounding the pond is currently wildlife friendly. Developing all the land in sites 29 and 691, particularly the field to the north of and by the side of the village pond, between the pond and Duck End Lane, would have a significant and substantial practical and aesthetic impact on the pond.
It would threaten the pond’s very survival and the survival of the wide range of wildlife it supports, including rare and protected species, by adversely impacting both run off water to the pond and also the pond’s setting in the presently attractive open and wildlife friendly landscape around it, thereby reducing the scope for and ability of wildlife to migrate to and from the pond and thus the opportunity for sustainable healthy breeding through genetic diversity with other populations.
The Friends has submitted comments, in a letter to the Borough Council, concluding that given the need to protect and conserve our natural environment, not least species protected by the law, wildlife corridors, and sites of local importance, and to safeguard the future of the village pond, its wildlife and the open wildlife friendly landscape in which the pond sits, it is seeking:
- at the very minimum, the removal from the threat of development of the field by the side of and to the north of the pond and its retention as open space, that is to its reassessment and recategorisation as land not suitable, available and achievable for development (as was categorised land to the west of that field at Stage 2 of the availability assessment); and
- more substantially, the removal from the threat of development of the whole of the land in sites 29 and 691, south of the A4280, and its retention as open space, and similarly therefore its reassessment and recategorisation as land not suitable, available and achievable for development.
Please do support your village pond by writing to the Borough Council’s Planning Department with your comments. You can send your comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to:
Local Plan 2035 consultation
Planning Policy Team
Bedford Borough Council
You may have read in the pre-Christmas press of the government’s ambitious plans for the Oxford to Cambridge corridor in which Bedford sits squarely in the middle. An expressway is to be built to speed up road transport, and there is even talk of recreating a train route between the two university cities. However, even if the funds can be found to complete the line from Oxford to Bedford the prospect of continuing the link to Cambridge must be a bit of a pipe dream. And anyway, if there is an expressway how many are likely to abandon the car or the X5 to pay through the nose to join a one carriage train stopping at loads of country halts?
Nevertheless, good news for Bedfordshire and Bedford. Or is it?
We can of course wax lyrical about being at the hub of a world-leading technological corridor, and I expect it will be great for house prices – that is if you are selling not buying. But it will surely worsen the lot of those young people in Bedford struggling to take their first steps on the housing ladder. It may be hard enough now, but if we become a new Silicon Valley, future parents might anticipate many more grown up children camping out with mum and dad – for ever!
But have no fear: the government is on the job! Odds on you are unaware of the existence of a body called The National Infrastructure Commission, which recently consulted all the councils within the corridor, including of course Bedford Borough. No doubt you are even less aware that the leaders of these councils, including the Mayor of Bedford, signed up to a paper which calls for an additional 1 million homes to be constructed in this corridor over the next 35 years, with the aim of supporting a further 1.6 million people.
To give you an idea of scale, a million new homes is equivalent to a city 50% larger than Birmingham, or ten giant towns the size of Northampton, or several hundred more Biddenhams. Houses, houses, everywhere; but from where are the people coming to fill them all?
However you look at it, the Borough of Bedford will have to take its share, and it would therefore appear that those of us who live in Biddenham will be faced with a never-ending battle to prevent the village’s absorption as a suburb of an expanding Bedford conurbation. For the foreseeable future, we will have to keep at bay the vultures circling around our few remaining green spaces, in the hope that we can retain the open fields and pass the baton on to our successors to continue the fight, for you can be sure the threat will never go away.
At the moment, as recorded in the last issue of The Loop, we await the public consultation stage for the borough’s next local plan, which will first identify agricultural and other land recommended to be reclassified for building purposes. The process has been delayed as a result of late bids to establish large scale housing areas (in effect new towns) elsewhere on the Bedford fringe. These are being considered together with many other bids from developers in which Biddenham – once again – features large, notwithstanding the huge construction projects already committed for Great Denham and north of Bromham Road. Nothing is sacrosanct to money-grabbing land owners.
Being rather uncharitable, we must hope the chosen areas for meeting the borough’s housing targets go elsewhere, and the remaining spaces on the edges of our village (such as the substantial land area west of Gold Lane) are left intact. If not, stand by for a tough struggle to retain the distinctiveness and attraction of where we live. But it is worth fighting for – isn’t it?
This will be my 74th and last column for The Loop, nine years after the first in the January 2008 issue of what was then the Biddenham Bulletin. During this fairly lengthy period I have tried to alert readers to the never-ending attempts by developers – small and large – to spoil our village, and in doing this I have rarely pulled my punches, applying the lash even-handedly to all, including any of my own erring friends or neighbours! There will be some, I am sure, who will be relieved at the news.
Throughout I have been conscious that my policy of ‘naming and shaming’ miscreants does not sit comfortably in a church-sponsored publication, and I recognise this has frequently placed successive editors in difficult positions with the PCC. I would like to thank both Jean and her predecessor Rosemary for the tolerance they have shown over the years in doing all they could to accommodate my comments and observations, which many others may well have deemed unacceptable in the context of this particular publication.
The time is perhaps overdue for me to dispense a modest dollop of largesse and make our editor’s life a little easier by closing my Biddenham Loop folder. My thanks to all those who have taken the time and trouble to contact me in person or by e-mail to respond to, or comment on, issues I have raised. Most, not all, have been positive, but you can’t please all the people all the time (as many have said, probably including Donald Trump), and as part of my purpose has been to energise residents to talk about such matters I can feel satisfied some progress has been made.
My best wishes to readers, and to the continued success of the excellent Loop.
Founded in 1965 by a group of concerned residents, The Biddenham Society remains committed to the continued preservation of the beauty, history, character and heritage of the village.
The roads are now being constructed within the development site for housing at the western – Biddenham – end of Kings Field:
Work is also underway creating the playing fields on the other side – Bromham side – of the bypass, but we didn’t manage to get across the road to take any photos of that as the rain started to come down.
However, later, my colleague also passed that way and did manage, amongst others, a photo looking into the area being developed for playing fields: